Ninjas have proven popular in practically every form of entertainment. Ghostrunner is the latest example that proves that video games are no exception to this.
Of course, developer One More Level has a lot to live up to. That’s because the Ninja games that are on the market are generally very good. Just look at the likes of Ninja Gaiden and Katana Zero for evidence of that.
Providing a modern take on the genre, Ghostrunner definitely gives you the feeling of what being a ninja is all about. While it is undoubtedly challenging and requires precision, Ghostrunner manages to keep everything feeling fresh and exciting.
Ghostrunner’s story follows the same tried-and-tested formula of many games. You take control of a protagonist who has no memory of who he is. The plot starts with the warrior being thrown out of a tall tower, which acts as the last remnant of humanity. When he lands, the Ghostrunner travels to track down the Architect, the original creator of the tower. It’s from here that the story unfolds.
Essentially, Ghostrunner is about a political power struggle between warring factions. But it has the added element of the main character attempting to figure out exactly how he fits into the world.
For the most part, the plot isn’t going to win any awards for storytelling. While it is serviceable enough, the tale is also rather predictable in the end. Even the basic premise of an amnesiac protagonist is something that has been done to death. However, what the narrative does is never get in the way of the action. Everything kind of just works in the background, there to be enjoyed if you want.
Those who do want to experience the whole plot will get access to some great dialogue. There’s a great cast of characters and you can get invested in their stories. With the campaign lasting just over eight hours in total, it also puts quality over quantity. The story doesn’t go on too long, meaning it does not outstay its welcome. Yet, players who prefer to concentrate on the gameplay can without worrying about the plot interfering.
In terms of the actual gameplay, Ghostrunner feels very reminiscent of Mirror’s Edge. The game features some complex and intricate movements, with the action taking place at blazing speeds. But controlling the hero is far simpler than it might appear at first. The ‘A’ button lets you do almost every single action. Whether it is jumping over obstacles or running along the wall, every movement is fairly easy to perform. The only other real action to take into consideration is the dash feature. This allows you to dodge attacks and close in on enemies.
This fluid gameplay and the precise control you have is essential. After all, Ghostrunner is a game that operates on a one-hit kill basis. Any mistake will lead to instant death, although all of your foes will also succumb to a single hit. Fortunately, there’s a bullet-time effect to help slow down the action and give you time to react. This is most helpful when trying to pull off fancy acrobatic moves. The smoothness of the movements and simple controls really allows you to perform some incredible feats.
Outside of combat, Ghostrunner is mainly a mixture of a puzzler and a platformer. The platforming sections revolve around the fluid movement described above. Players have to skillfully get around the environment, carefully timing wall runs and jumps to get from A to B. There are even some hidden secrets that require you to reach certain difficult-to-reach spots. Meanwhile, the puzzle elements are usually just a way to introduce new gameplay mechanics or skills. They are meant to teach you the basics so you can then use what you have learned in combat.
Anyone who has seen a screenshot of Ghostrunner will know that it has a distinctive art style. The world is unashamedly cyberpunk in nature, with everything having a sort of Blade Runner aesthetic. This gives the in-game world a dystopian atmosphere that bleeds through every section. Furthermore, characters all have impressive designs while each level of the tower has a unique look. What this does is ensure the environments stick to a theme but also constantly seem fresh.
Everything about the sound design in Ghostrunner is exceptional. There’s a satisfying feeling to each effect. Whether it is the swords clashing against an enemy or gunfire from armed soldiers, the audio is authentic. It also gives every action and enemy a unique sound, helping you easily identify what you are facing. Then, of course, there is the musical score. Ghostrunner has a pulsing synth soundtrack that perfectly encapsulates the on-screen action. While it might not be something that you’ll listen to outside the game, it works well to accompany the gameplay.
Ghostrunner is a game full of style and fast-paced action. Players will hardly ever get a moment to themselves, as the combat and platforming come thick and fast. You’ll die a lot in Ghostrunner as it’s a difficult experience.
Fortunately, the fast loading times and enjoyable gameplay stops the game from being frustrating. It’ll also get you playing in different styles and adapt to the different challenges. Add in the decent story and a great presentation and Ghostrunner is a real winner.
Ghostrunner is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. Owners of the PS4 and Xbox One versions will receive a free upgrade to next-gen versions when they release in 2021.